Nutanix makes major enhancements to Elevate Partner Program

Nutanix adds a series of new incents and enablement supports designed to make partners fully autonomous, efficient, and able to support customer success.

Dave Gwyn, Nutanix’s SVP of Worldwide Channels and Customer Success

To kick off their FY24, Nutanix is making multiple changes to their channel incentives. These include adding salesperson and SE spiffs for new business to company incents, increased deal registration discounts, quarterly performance bonuses for YOY growth, calculated quarterly, and new rebates for channel-led deals, which are stackable with other incents.

Nutanix has always had a channel-focused Go-to-Market strategy, but it has seen many shifts over the years in attempts to make partners more effective and everyone, including Nutanix, more profitable. Dave Gwyn, Nutanix’s SVP of Worldwide Channels and Customer Success has been there for basically all of it, starting in 2012 as Employee Number 85, holding down multiple sales roles, then Customer Success. The Customer Success and Worldwide Channels roles were brought together under him last year, in what Gwyn stressed is ideally suited for a subscription model.

“More companies should start to do it,” he told ChannelBuzz. “The logic is that in a true shift to subscription you shift to a focus on lifetime value. ‘Customer first; has become a cliché, but it is absolutely true for a successful subscription channel, and both our channel partners and our Customer Success organizations need to do the same things.”

Nutanix’s original sales model was based on developing market penetration, so that the company was introduced to the customer by Nutanix, did all the install work in most cases, and while the partner was fully compensated, Nutanix’s main benefit was acquiring a customer, not making money off the deal.

“Back then, we didn’t have a channel organization,” Gwyn said. “We had a sales organization that wore both hats. That was initially because we wanted market penetration because we were an insurgent product – and then it became a habit, where we worked with the partner on selling. That’s an expensive way to go to market.”

The enhancements being announced now are the most systematic effort to date to fundamentally reshape the business model to encourage the partner to carry the ball on both Nutanix’s traditional and cloud offerings.

“We realized the problem in our sales strategy years ago, and have worked on it for years trying to change it,” Gwyn emphasized. “This year is exciting for that effort. This is a cultural shift for Nutanix –a cultural shift here we do not have external reps assigned to the account, which is about two thirds of them. Our reps now have only named accounts.”

Gwyn also stressed that Nutanix is moving to capitalize on uncertainties in the market created by the now almost certain pending acquisition of VMware by Broadcom.

“This is a very exciting marketplace for Nutanix because of that key enterprise virtualization vendor being acquired,” he said. “It has led to lots of customers contemplating their own future. We want individuals at partner companies to introduce us to those customers.”

The programmatic changes begin by appealing to those individuals with the addition of individual spiffs to the New Business Individual Incentive. Both partner sellers and sales engineers can earn a 2% incentive, up to $7,500 per deal, for identifying, registering, and winning new business with Nutanix.

“We already had the New Business Rebate for partner reseller organizations,” Gwyn said. “Our objective on rebates was to be valuable to the company as well as the individual, so we needed to do both. That meant increasing focus on individual incentive with a 2% rebate on new business, paid up front.”

This incent is accompanied by a second one, a new channel-led selling rebate incentive.

“This new channel-led segment that we pay rebates to our partners applies where they take the lead, and is separate from the new logo rebate,” Gwyn said. “The new logo rebates applies across all segments. They get another one in the channel-led segment, and it is stackable with the new logo rebate.”

Deal registration discounts are also being increased for partners who register deals and quote the Nutanix simplified product portfolio SKUs.

“We put a lot of work into this,” Gwyn said. “The delta of the price advantage of registered advantage was down to 12-13%, and now it is over 20% in most cases. We wanted to strengthen the advantage to the partner who brings us that opportunity, offset the fact that the hardware pricing is even and give the deal reg partner full advantage.”

Top-performing partners will have the opportunity to earn additional performance bonuses through the Outperformance Rebate program

“This is brand new and is focused on YOY growth,” Gwyn indicated. “We pay them for making money – like what we tell Wall Street we will do, The bonus is paid quarterly, and on YOY growth on a quarter by quarter comparison.”

Nutanix is also assisting partners with the establishment of Channel Led Autonomous Research Centres [CLARCs]. These are worldwide sales centres that support partners on deals with select accounts when needed.

“The idea behind these White Glove Centres is to support partners if there is a part of the sales cycle where they are relatively weak,” Gwyn said. “The idea is to make them better at these things, so that the next time they will be autonomous. We envisioned something like this before, but this is the first time it has been built out and tied to a segment.”

New enablement pathways are also launching mid-October in the updated Nutanix University platform to ensure partners have the sales, technical, and services capabilities needed to be successful around hybrid multi-cloud solutions.

“This also goes a bit to the channel-led aspect,” Gwyn noted. “The idea is to get as many partners trained and certified as possible. Before, we had a lot of enablement, but we are now doing a better job of indicating what courses to take to get specific certifications.”

The customer success component is also being strengthened by providing partners with Available to Renew [ATR] data.  The idea is that renewals will become a natural byproduct of customer success, simplifying the process and ensuring long-term relationships.

“Until this deployment, our partners did not have this visibility,” Gwyn said. “We are now giving them visibility through the partner dashboard. This allows them to take a more active role in customer success.”